Online Centres Network
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New research gives shape to community learning of the future

New research from OCF - the organisation behind the national network of UK online centres - shows the huge power technology can have in opening up non-formal learning to those traditionally reluctant to engage with it.

The report evaluates the unique eReading Rooms pilot - funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills - and is helping to shape the future of community learning.

In a six month pilot, 20 eReading Rooms engaged people in activities ranging from baking to jewellery making, composting to composing, word search to jobsearch - all enabled or enhanced by technology. At a cost of just £37 per head, each of the 1,337 learners was from a hard-to-reach group, socially excluded by factors including age, disability, education, lack of employment or by not having English as a first language.

They not only improved their skills by following the subject of their choice, but also improved their IT, maths and English skills by proxy. They also became more involved in the community, with most going on to further formal or informal learning.

The centres involved in the pilot shared their eReading Room experiences and engagement models, and collated a unique bank of the online resources and tools they’d identified for each subject in an online Learning Zone.

My Learning Zone is now part of OCF ’s wider learning platform, which includes basic and development IT skills on Learn My Way - OCF is now working with Community Learning Trusts to ensure informal e-learning is embraced and embedded in their work.

The eReading Room abridged report can be found online (PDF), or read it in full (PDF). You can also see a video overview of the project below.

ICS.AI On-Demand Webinar 3rd March 2021